Last night, Speaker Pelosi wrote a blog post on her website about the House health care bill from the Tri-Committee staff that showed it as being deficit neutral and that it would yield a $6 billion surplus. This is huge news because it cuts off arguments from so-called "fiscal conservatives" like moderate Democrats, Republicans, and Blue Dog Democrats that the current House health bill isn’t deficit-neutral. Here’s the relevant excerpt in the press release about the $6 billion surplus from the Tri-Committee staff on the Energy and Commerce Committee website below:
"The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released estimates this evening confirming for the first time that H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is deficit neutral over the 10-year budget window – and even produces a $6 billion surplus…The estimates also cover important reinvestments in Medicare and Medicaid, including phasing in the closing of the "donut" hole in the Medicare drug benefit. The bill’s long-term reform of Medicare’s physician fee schedule to eliminate the potential 21 percent cut in fees, and put payments on a sustainable basis for the future, will cost about $245 billion. Those costs, however, are not included in the net calculations above, as they will be absorbed under the upcoming statutory ‘pay go’ legislation that is pending in the House."
If there are those who are wondering about the current difference in the CBO report that shows the House health care legislation adding $239 billion to the deficit, it’s because the pay-go legislation which would strike this difference hasn’t been passed yet. The Tri-Committee staff is basing their calculations of the $6 billion surplus contingent on the passage of the pay-go legislation. So until the pay-go legislation is passed, the $245 billion which is being carved out from the pay-go legislation won’t be compared against the CBO projected addition of $239 billion to the national deficit in the House legislation. Once the pay-go legislation is passed then the $245 billion carved out from the pay-go will be compared against the $239 billion to the deficit to produce an overall $6 billion surplus.
The pay-go legislation, H.R. 2920, by Rep. Steny Hoyer will be scheduled for a vote this week on July 21st at 3PM in the House Rules Committee for full consideration to be introduced onto the House floor. Here’s more from CQ Politics on what will happen when that pay-go legislation is introduced:
When that bill (HR 2920) is considered in the next week, the house budget chairman will be allowed to change the budget rules so that the physician payment section of the health bill does not violate “Pay Go.”
If they succeed in changing the budget rules and passing the pay-go legislation, then the CBO will have to revise their estimate and declare the legislation to be deficit-neutral. It’s going to be one hell of a fight this week.